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Costco earned a spot on my cheapest grocery stores list for a reason! It's my favorite place to shop for bulk pantry staples for their consistent quality, low prices, and reliable return policy. 

Photo of Costco warehouse.

​How Costco Can Afford to Offer Cheaper Prices

Costco operates on a bulk purchasing model, which means that they buy products in very large quantities directly from manufacturers and distributors. And by doing this, Costco can negotiate lower prices per unit, passing those savings on to customers. 

Additionally, Costco's membership fees contribute to their revenue to help offset operating costs. 

Here are the top 17 pantry staples I buy at Costco to save my family money! Most of them I started purchasing here when I was on my debt-free journey. My Costco membership absolutely contributed to me paying off $70k debt in 27 months!

Give them a try yourself, and if you don't like it for any reason, bring it back to your local warehouse for a full refund – no questions asked! 

1. Peeled Garlic 

Organic peeled garlic stocked at Costco.

Peeled garlic is not exactly a pantry staple, but it is a freezer pantry essential for me. Peeling garlic is one of those annoying little dinner tasks that I really do not enjoy. There's been several times in the past where I would just use garlic powder to avoid peeling garlic and the flavor is just lackluster!

My solution? Buying peeled garlic!

I buy this bulk bag at Costco, throw it in the freezer, and pull out a few cloves at a time each night directly from the bag. The cloves magically don't stick together and it's much fresher tasting than jarred minced garlic or garlic paste. Not to mention this bag lasts forever! 

2. Maple Syrup

Kirkland brand organic maple syrup.

The jug of pure maple syrup at Costco is the same size you can buy at Walmart, Trader Joe's, and many other grocery stores. But I've diligently price checked, and Costco is always $3-$5 cheaper. As an added bonus, it's organic! 

3. Cooking Oils 

Avocado oil at Costco.

Costco carries a wide array of cooking oils and cooking spray that are significantly cheaper than you'll find anywhere else. We buy avocado oil, avocado oil spray, coconut oil, and occasionally extra-virgin olive oil. You can use these cooking oils to cook all of your meals, bake cakes and chocolate chip cookies, air frying, make salad dressings, etc!

If you're on a really tight budget, pick up their vegetable oil or canola oil – it lasts forever and is the best bang for your buck. 

4. Rice

If you have the storage space, buying a 25 pound or 50 pound bag of white rice or brown rice can be a really smart buy. It costs just a couple cents per serving and can be paired with tons of cheap meals

This is exclusively how we buy our white rice and brown rice. It ensures we always have rice on hand to add to meals and is a healthy addition to any plant-based diet. 

To keep it fresh for months, we store the rice in 5-gallon food grade buckets with oxygen absorbers and keep them in an extra closet. When stored this way, white rice will keep for several years and brown rice will keep for about 1 year. 

5. All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour organic unbleached stocked at Costco.

If you bake often, you can pick up high-quality all-purpose flour or wheat flour at Costco for a really competitive price. For example, in April 2024, my local Costco sells twenty pounds of Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour for $16.49. In contrast, a 5 pound bag of Bob's Red Mill's Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour costs $8.34 – about twice the cost of Costco! 

​When stored properly all-purpose flour will keep for a couple of YEARS!

6. Almond Flour

Almond flour at Costco.

Costco is the BEST place to buy specialty flours. They sell a Kirkland brand of almond flour that is some of the highest quality almond flour I've ever used (my Almond Flour Banana Muffins work SO much better with Kirkland Almond Flour. The Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour is way too coarse and heavy!). 

If you do a lot of gluten-free baking or enjoy adding more nutritious flours to your diet, always check Costco. It's practically guaranteed to be cheaper for a really quality product. 

7. Coffee

San Francisco Bay Coffee Organic Rainforest blend.

Costco carries both their own Kirkland Signature brand as well as other well-known coffee brands including Starbucks, Peets Coffee, Dunkin' Donuts, and more. We always buy the Organic Kirkland Whole Coffee Beans. 

They're such high quality, we have been using them in our Breville Espresso Machine for several years with no issues or excessive oil buildup. We love the flavor of these beans so much, it almost always beats the flavor of coffee shop coffee! 

In April 2024, you can get 3 pounds of organic whole coffee beans for $18.99. It also regularly goes on sale for an additional $3-$4 off (great time to stock up!). I've browsed the coffee options at my local grocery stores and it's often upwards of $15 per pound! YIKES. 

8. Pasta and Ramen 

Ramen at Costco.

Costco carries a wide variety of pastas, alternative pastas, and ramen noodles and they are all a great deal compared to regular grocery stores (even the cheapest grocery stores!). 

They're high in quality, are usually free of any weird additives, and usually has a best-by date that is several months, if not years, in the future, which means you won't need to worry about them going bad. 

Bonus Tip: If you love Rao's pasta sauce, Costco is by far the best deal and regularly goes on sale for an additional $3-$4 off. We used to buy Rao's pasta sauce religiously, but now I make my own Spaghetti Sauce from scratch to save money. 

9. Nuts and Seeds 

Almonds at Costco.

If I can help it, I try to exclusively buy my nuts and seeds at Costco for the cost savings. Nuts and seeds are a huge part of a plant-based diet as they are a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats. The only problem is nuts and seeds can be wildly expensive if you buy them at the wrong place. 

If you've read my pantry staples post, you'll know I keep almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, peanuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds on hand and can almost always find them at Costco in a 3-pound bag.

Just keep the nuts and seeds in the fridge or freezer to prevent them from going rancid! 

10. Nut Butters

Natural 2-pack of Kirkland creamy peanut butter.

Costco sells a Kirkland Brand of both natural peanut butter and almond butter that is so much better for you than processed Skippy or peanut butter with added sugars, oils, etc!

More importantly, it is by far the cheapest natural peanut butter and almond butter you can find. For reference, the peanut butter is $11.79 for a 2-pack of jars that are 28 ounces each. If you look for natural peanut butter at stores like Whole Foods, a tiny 16 ounce jar will likely cost more than $12! 

11. Beans 

8-pack case of black beans.

If you've followed the blog for any length of time, you'll know I am a very big fan of cooking legumes from scratch in the Instant Pot or rice cooker. It's SO much cheaper than canned beans. With that being said, if you don't have the freezer space or time to cook your own beans from scratch, buying canned beans from Costco is the next best thing! 

My Costco sells an 8-pack of S&W black beans for $8.79 or $1.09 each. This is technically more expensive than the cheapest canned black beans at my local Walmart ($0.88 per can), but I will spend more for the Costco beans for a few reasons: 

  • They are organic – I'm not against conventional foods, but if organic is just a tiny bit more, I'll go for organic. 
  • No weird ingredients – Walmart's Great Value of beans contain calcium chloride (to help maintain firmness) and disodium edta (to promote color retention). The Organic S&W Black beans contain just black beans, water, and salt. 

If you have the space and an Instant Pot, I highly recommend cooking your own beans from scratch. It's 3-4x cheaper and you can control the ingredients in your beans! I store them the same way I store my bulk bags of rice and a 25-pound bag can last my husband and I several months.

12. Canned Tomatoes 

Organic tomato sauce.

The Kirkland brand of canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste are the best deal and so high-quality! 

13. Spices 

Spices are one of those pantry essentials that makes a huge difference in flavor of the dish, but can be really expensive to stock up on. When I first bought spices for my starter pantry, I remember spending over $100! 

Costco won't carry every spice you need, but they tend to sell the basics in larger sizes. If there are certain spices you go through regularly, pick them up in a bigger size at Costco! We buy our salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and red chili flakes at Costco.

14. Bouillon Paste 

Better than Bouillon vegetable base.

Vegetable broth is a pantry staple for almost everyone and can really add up every week if you're accustomed to buying tetrapaks of broth. Several years ago I found the jumbo jar of Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base at Costco and never looked back. 

It's gone up in price over the years (now $8.99), but is still the best deal possible. Each jar makes 100 cups of broth – all you have to do is mix 1 teaspoon of bouillon base with water and use it just as you would a cup of broth. 

​I like to buy the vegetable base, but Costco also regularly stocks the chicken and beef versions. 

TIP: This can be a seasonal product, so if they don't have it right now at your store, check during the fall. And once they have it, STOCK UP!!! It has a long shelf life and will last. 

15. Baking Soda and Vinegar 

This isn't exactly a pantry staple for us because we use it primarily for cleaning and laundry, but I do set aside a small jar of the big bag of baking soda for baking! 

Note! I don't usually buy my apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar at Costco because I don't go through it fast enough, but if you do, Costco carries these for a very reasonable price. 

16. Chocolate Chips 

​Costco sells a Kirkland brand of chocolate chips that is semi-sweet and naturally vegan! It's by far the best deal on vegan-friendly chocolate chips, so when they have it in stock (it was missing for a few years!), I stock up! 

Check your Costco for these chocolate chips – the blue bag, not red! 

17. Whole Grains

Organic Quinoa.

Whole grains are typically a large part of our diet. They're cheap, healthy, and last a really long time when stored properly. In addition to white and brown rice, we usually buy our quinoa and steel cut oats at Costco. I also noticed that Costco now sells a bulk bag of Kirkland rolled oats, so when we run out of our current rolled oats stash, I'll check out their rolled oats bag! 

Other Frugal Buys at Costco 

The following items aren't pantry staples, but they're commonly found in our cart when we shop at Costco. I've done the math and price-matching, and they're always quality and very competitive in price. Plus, if you're not happy, you can always return your purchase, no questions asked. 

  • Fresh produce (fresh fruit, vegetables, leafy greens, etc.)
  • Frozen produce (great for smoothies and cheaper vegetables!)
  • Toilet paper (people also love buying paper towels at Costco, but we haven't used them for years. We use reusable cloth towels to save money). 
  • Dishwasher detergent 
  • Sponges 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Parchment paper 
  • Ziplock bags 
  • Laundry detergent 
  • Socks 
  • Clothing
  • Wine and alcohol
  • Gasoline (we try to exclusively fill up our cars at Costco!)
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12 Dirt Cheap Weeknight Dinners ebook cover.

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